When it comes to creating beautiful things, there’s something unique about how PEI breathes life into the process for Island makers. Lucky for us, when inspiration flows for our local artists, artisans and crafters, we can reap all the brilliant benefits! For a small province, there’s an abundance of locally made objects and art everywhere you go. Some makers offer art that is fresh, new, and unique, while others have homegrown businesses that are truly beloved by all, with skill and a passion that has been passed down through generations.
We see the finished products, but what do we really know about the passion and process that went into creating it all? It’s time to find out what the secret ingredient is in some of our favourite Island treasures. Here are 5 local makers who are so worth getting to know!
Happy Sappy Mail & Oh Hey – Kim Roach
Things that warm your heart are exactly Kim Roach’s specialty! As the owner behind Happy Sappy Mail, Kim hand letters and illustrates all her own designs, including greeting cards, prints, and other special projects like her “I Hear The Ocean In My Heart” line, and her collaboration with the wildly successful show Anne with an E. Growing up in a creative home, Kim’s chosen creative outlet has always been drawing and, as she finds herself now running her own business, what warms her heart is the idea is that her cards become part of life’s big moments for her customers!
Kim is constantly inspired by the love she sees in small PEI communities, the changes of seasons, and feeling the support from others when it comes to her business. It’s just purchasing her work that makes a big difference for Kim – it’s also the little touches, like simply in sharing your love for her work that brings about the most unexpected and enthusiastic customers!
To celebrate creativity and island inspiration, Kim and her sister Rachel Peters have checked an item off their bucket list by opening Oh Hey PEI, their own store filled with stationery, Rachel’s photography, and other small gifts sure to catch your heart and your eye. Inspired by family and PEI, Kim and Rachel’s store is an extension of their passion for PEI and wanting to share that love, and all things happy and sappy, with everyone else.
Moonsnail Soapworks – Jennifer Ridgway
What began as a small, homemade booth at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market back in 1995 has now grown into something Jennifer Ridgway could not have imagined. Moonsnail Soapworks has certainly evolved from its self-taught, humble beginnings now selling much more than the simple soap that started it all. Its products can be found at their Charlottetown location on Water Street and at quality stores across Canada. Jennifer’s interest in creating product organically and locally is what has taken this tiny booth and turned it into one of the largest producers of handcrafted soap in Eastern Canada.
Self-taught and adventurous, Jennifer’s love for creating, specifically, soap making, was born out of a passion for art and transparency in life and product. Jennifer and her team have a commitment to creating goods made with the finest of ingredients – and yes, that includes the soil of our very own little isle! From soaps to scrubs, skincare to hair care, even to products for your pets, Moonsnail Soapworks is passionate about creating homegrown, unique soaps that you feel good using.
Kuriosities – Kimberly MacIntyre
Now, this is a place with a story to tell. Owner and jewelry designer, Kimberly McIntyre can be seen – and often heard – in the studio shop on Victoria Row as she brings her creations to life. As a child, she was mesmerized by gemstones, and all things earthy and whimsical. Her childhood passion for sketching, painting, reading and spinning stories has developed into a lifelong pursuit of whimsy and beauty. And Kuriosities has both in spades with not just unique jewelry but decor, accessories, personal products, and stationary that delight and inspire.
Visit the downtown space and see a diverse collection of fine jewelry made exclusively from raw materials within the shop’s studio. Kimberly draws inspiration from around the world and from master jewellers under whom she regularly studies, constantly pushing herself as she learns new techniques, pursuing the kind of excellence for which Kuriosities is so well known. Discover their collection of rings embossed with PEI sand and Kuriosities’ famous Island necklaces.
Cattails Woodworking – Brenda Watts
After working in a “real job” and realizing she was not exactly happy doing so, Brenda Watts made the courageous decision to embark on a big life change. With no previous experience other than a love and interest for old, handcrafted wooden things, Brenda waltzed into the woodworking world – a world that was known as being predominantly male – and graduated from the Visual Arts program for Fine Woodworking at Holland College.
Now after 11 years of practice, learning, and shadowing, Brenda runs her Cattails Woodworking and her work is nothing short of magnificent. From her own studio, Brenda crafts custom furniture and fine wood home goods, and business has grown in leaps and bounds since she began selling online. Her work has been featured in HGTV, Canadian Living, Style at Home, and more. Turns out, that leap of faith those years ago has paid off as the quality of her work has a reputation for quality and style!
Belfast Mini Mills
Linda, Hazel, and Sheila know the ins and outs of everything wool, textile, fibre, and cozy at the Belfast Mini Mills. A quick 30 minute jaunt from Charlottetown, you’ll find life in Belfast is a breath of fresh air. The team here knows everything (and more!) there is to know about the fibre business and their passion is contagious – warps, weaves, looms and dyes galore! Their love for what they do shows in each product they sell, class they teach, tour they give, and dream they have.
To the untrained eye, this place is all about knitting and wool, but Belfast Mini Mills is known worldwide for building exceptional textile machinery that processes fibres, shipping them around the world and servicing those machines wherever they end up. And yet, the Mills is even more than that. Becoming experts with their equipment, knowing how to handle each kind of fibre, operating a store and classes, training others in appreciation of luxury yarns, all while running a successful, multi-faceted business is no small feat. The team at Belfast Mini Mills certainly work hard and their passion is woven into the very fabric of the Island’s community of makers!
Stephen DesRoches Photography
Fun Fact: if you are carrying the new PEI Health Card, you already have a print of Stephen DesRoches in your pocket. And as cool as that is, his photographical works go far beyond that! A love of simply creating is what brought Stephen into the world of photography. From painting, to learning about computer programming, to editing photos for websites… this may not sound like the most typical progression into the art of photography, but for Stephen, it’s what worked. For a photographer like Stephen who focuses on landscapes, PEI truly never ceases to offer inspiration, especially at the beach!
While photography may not be Stephen’s full-time gig, he definitely has a full-time passion for exploring and sharing his eye with others. Over the past two years he has published two books of his and others’ photos, in hopes to tangibly share the island with as many people as possible. Prince Edward Island: Images of the Night Sky and A Photographer’s Guide to Prince Edward Island (by John Sylvester and Stephen Desroches) are beautiful (and affordable) ways you can bring the island’s year-round beauty into your home! Order yours through Stephen himself.
Clearly there is no lack of talent, creativity, and inspired local shopping to be done across the island. Trust us when we say this is just the tip of the iceberg! The gift of buying local adds meaning, value, and a little extra joy to a gift, whether you’re shopping for yourself or for others (Christmas is right around the corner!). We truly believe you need not look further than your island community of makers to find a little something for everyone… yourself included!